That’s correct. Batman has been used and abused, manipulated and tortured in so many ways it’s not even funny… well, actually it is in some cases. Batman is pretty well the macabre and morose version of Tony Stark, with perhaps less money and intelligence, and certainly less of a sense of humour. Batman is a superhero in the way that Harley Quinn is still a psychiatrist… in that she isn’t, or if she is, she’s now certainly a poor excuse for one.
Perhaps it’s Batman’s humanity that rings a bell with so many people; that a ‘normal’ human being could be so badass and, by way of his intelligence and skill, overcome villainy, but to be perfectly honest, he’s not that normal is he? That’s like saying Donald Trump is just an average American Joe who really understands the people. It’s about time that the Batman hype fell a bit by the wayside, and to help ease that process along, here is a list of 15 Batman baddies who were never overwhelmingly either smart or strong, who still managed to, in spite of all of Batman’s accoutrements, mangle, manipulate, or otherwise master the great Dark Knight.
15. Lady Shiva
Admittedly, Batman has said that Shiva is a greater martial artist than he, but that’s hardly a compliment, or a vote for her strength as a villain when he’s taken down greats like Superman. Lady Shiva has been a great driving force in the Batman franchise, from training Robin number three, to her daughter becoming the new Batgirl, it would seem that Shiva is a positive force in the world of the Bat. However, upon their very first encounter (depending on which story you follow), eager to have a bout with the famed caped crusader, Shiva knocked Jason Todd unconscious, and took the dark knight to task. Underestimating her gravely, Batman soon found himself in a true life or death situation. The only reason, in this altercation, that Batty walked away at all was thanks to Jason Todd coming to, and striking from behind. A silly victory, especially when taken into consideration Todd’s future confrontation with the Bat. Not only his arrogance, but the skill of a simply well-trained human woman was enough to subdue this great hero.
One could say that Clayface is actually quite a powerful character, but given that he was simply an actor driven mad, and has been melted into the ground more times than can be counted, it may be fairly safe to say that this malleable monster is a safe and relatively easy target for the Bat to continually outmatch and overcome. That being said, there was once a time when the already often defeated Clayface had a surprise for Batman. Having harnessed, and absorbed electrical powers from Wonder Woman, Clayface decided it would be the perfect time to face off with the dark one. Simply and soundly subduing the Bat, Clayface was set and ready to kill him off, at long last. Had it not been for the intervening Mr. Freeze who began to argue with Clayface about who should be the one to do the deed, Clayface would most certainly have ended the Dark Knight’s crusade. Worth noting here, Batman didn’t then get up and defeat the two villains; he fled. Very quickly.
Now here is the case of a squishy character who is skillfully strong, but made to seem weak. Recently portrayed by Will Smith in Suicide Squad, and no more than a gushy human being with exceptional marksman skills (no doubt due to his one failed shot that resulted in the murder of his beloved brother), Deadshot boasts an ability, like many villains, that should have ended their fight against certain superheroes long ago. Deadshot, though deadly to the general masses as a villain, has not been so deadly when it comes to dispatching the Dark Knight. A die-hard fan of the Bat might assume this is due to the incredible intelligence of Bruce Wayne, and his well designed and impervious suit, but a die-hard fan of the Bat would be wrong to assume this. Admittedly, on several occasions, Deadshot has pulled his shots on the Bat, out of some sense of respect, and perhaps out of his not so secret wish for his own death. Even in the recent film, Deadshot has the opportunity to kill the Bat, but stops at the behest of his daughter. Lucky Bat.
Perhaps made the most famous in this order: Michelle Pfeiffer, Anne Hathaway, and Halle Berry, Catwoman has long been a persistent pain in Batman’s rubber pants— in more ways than one. In a particular story arc, Catwoman engages in a fight with the Bat, only to be defeated, interrogated, and imprisoned… all part of the plan, unbeknownst to Batty-boy. On a mission to spring Bane from prison, the sultry, feline femme fatale rigs the prison with explosives and, while Batman shows up to capture her once again, he would not sacrifice the lives of all the people in the prison (innocent or not), which gives her and Bane a chance to flee. Thanks to Bane’s weakened state, however, Batman does catch up to them, and since it is part of a Batman story, does eventually have Catwoman captured once again, but not before she blinds the Bat in a fight. Just as well: bats don’t use their eyes to see anyway, right?
11. Jason Todd
Once known as Robin number two, Jason Todd, after having been beaten to death by the jolly Joker with a crowbar in hand, comes back to life to terrify the Bat… just kidding, it’s actually Clayface who has assumed the adult appearance of one Jason Todd in order to subdue the Dark Knight. But then, coming back from the grave thanks to Superboy Prime (seriously this time), Jason Todd, infuriated that his death was never avenged, becomes the Red Hood number two, and seeks out Batman. Beating the seltzer out of the Joker with a crowbar, Todd plans on the Bat to come and save him. Mission accomplished. The Bat comes to the Joker’s rescue, and Jason Todd beats the ever-living snot out of Batman. Pointing a gun in Batty’s face, Todd fails only by giving Batman the choice to either kill him or the Joker. This gives the Bat time to subdue Todd, but it’s clear that Batty was beat.
10. Joe Chill
Whether you assume him to be some street bum, a mafia hitman, a mob boss, or the son of a Wayne Manor caretaker, there’s no denying that Joe Chill made the Bat. Seriously. Ever remember a time when Bruce Wayne was happy and carefree? Of course not, and this is because of Mr. Chill (not to be confused with Mr. Freeze). Walking down an alley, late at night, the story has been told to death, Joe Chill makes to rob young Bruce’s parents and, in the process, shoots and kills them both. That’s right: Joe Chill is the reason Batman exists in the first place, and is thus perhaps Bruce’s greatest enemy, though perhaps one of the most easily dispatched (killed by his own men when they discover that he’s the reason for the Bat). Perhaps it’s a cheap shot to say that this weak villain defeated Batman, but considering how tortured the Bat is for the entirety of his career, it’s safe to say that Joe Chill defeated the Bat the day he murdered Bruce’s parents… the same day Chill created the Bat.
9. The Penguin
The Penguin, most famously played by Danny DeVito is, much like both his nemeses, Black Mask, and Batman, born to great wealth. Unlike the Black Mask’s parents dying in a fire (which he likely caused), and the Bat’s parents being shot to death (via Joe Chill), the Penguin was simply cast away by his parents for his not so terrible deformities. Finding his way to ruling Gotham’s underworld, and then recanting his criminal ways and going into the entertainment industry, this bird-faced villain was taken to task by Black Mask number two, and thus, seeking revenge, kidnapped Batman, brainwashing him to assassinate Black Mask; ultimately failing in the assassination attempt. Of course, at this point Batman was Dick Grayson as the ‘real Bat’ was supposedly dead… perhaps itself a show of just how easily Batman can be used and abused, whether Bruce Wayne, or not.
Like so many of his opponents, the Bat shares much in common with Prometheus, though in a twisted way. Prometheus’ parents were criminals, gunned down by the police, driving him to swear vengeance on the authorities, and forces of justice. Also incredibly intelligent like the Bat, Prometheus builds himself a helmet that imbues him with the skills of the world’s thirty greatest martial artists (apparently including those of the Bat), a la The Matrix. Finding his way into the watchtower of the Justice League of America, Prometheus takes each and every member to task, focusing intensely on Batman. Much like every other situation where Batty finds himself in the shit with no chance of survival, his only saving grace against the onslaught of this bum with a high I.Q., is someone else stepping in at just the right moment. Cue Catwoman, swinging her whip to crotch shot Prometheus before he can deal the killing blow.
7. The Mutant Leader
Simply known as the Mutant Leader, this head of a grotesque gang of villains deals with the Bat with relative ease. Working out of the Gotham City dump, the Mutant Leader and his gang are confronted by the caped crusader. Using rubber bullets, fired from the comfort of the renowned Batmobile, the Bat completely takes out the mutant gang, save for its leader. With no special abilities, a fabulous physique, and a mutant complexion, the Mutant Leader calls out Batman as a coward, and challenges him one on one. In spite of the Bat’s supposed skill in martial arts, the Mutant Leader beats him to a pulp, and almost impales him with a crowbar. The Bat’s only saving grace? Carrie Kelly showing up in a Robin outfit to distract the Mutant Leader long enough for the Bat to subdue him. Batman is so noble that he can’t even take on some grotesque one-on-one.
6. Sgt. Branden
No one saw this coming… except for the cop looking through the scope of course. Sergeant Branden was a member of the Gotham City Police Department’s S.W.A.T. team, and was known for his use of excessive force. Branden also served as commissioner briefly when Gordon was on suspension under Mayor Peter Grogan. The sweetness of this incredibly weak villain is that he goes to show, for all to see, just how easy it is to take out the Bat. Apart from almost breaking Batty in half, like Bane did over his knee, or punching him into outer space, which surely everyone is surprised Superman didn’t do, Sergeant Branden has a much simpler solution: sniper rifle. From afar, Branden shot and damn near killed the Dark Knight. Of course Batman has an armoured rubber suit with ridiculous nipples, so the first shot to the chest didn’t kill Batty, but it did incapacitate him. But, as per usual, someone steps in, and the Hangman kills Branden before he can take the fatal shot.
5. Deacon Blackfire & The Cult
Everyone knows that the Bat doesn’t use guns, or kill people, and has a moral compass that only ever points to righteousness, right? Wrong. Sure, Batman has been captured plenty of times, but always gets out seemingly easily thanks to the arrogance of his enemies, but thanks to Deacon Blackfire and The Cult, Batty gets captured and goes Batty! Drugged, brainwashed, and handed a gun, Batman actually goes out and kills a man! With a gun! Eventually able to come to, and search the sewers for the cult leader, the Bat confronts Deacon Blackfire who, in turn, insists the Bat kill him to martyr him for his followers. Instead, the Bat beats the one-hundred-year-old man to a bloody pulp, leaving the weak old man to be killed by his former followers. Not only could Bat not kill a man, once of “sound” mind, but he couldn’t be bothered to save a withered old man from a mob of people, and beat him senseless to offer him up to said mob. Blackfire not only got a victory over the Bat, but also showed just how uncaring the Bat really is, in spite of his vigilantism.
4. The Joker
A huge fan favourite, most notably played, in order, by Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Mark Hamill, Heath Ledger, and Jared Leto, The Joker has been responsible for some of Batman’s greatest tortures. A master of manipulation, but a squishy human being like the rest of us. The joker has no special powers, just a way with words and weapons, and waylaying into people to get what he wants. The number of innocent people the Clown Prince has killed must weigh on the Bat heavily, especially since he simply won’t kill the clown to save so many lives. Defeat. Not to mention that, in at least one story arc, the funny man is responsible for the death of Wayne’s parents. Defeat. And for the death of Jason Todd. Defeat. And for crippling Barbara Gordon. Defeat. The biggest defeat comes from The Killing Joke story where, at the end, Bats and The Joker laugh together until, it is assumed by many, Batman, at long last, kills The Joker. A crippling defeat for the Bat, breaking his vow never to kill (though he did already kill for Blackfire).
3. The Reaper
Judson Caspian, otherwise known as The Reaper, having lost his wife to a robber in the streets (or having survived a concentration camp, depending on the story one follows), turned his attention to the murder of criminals, though very often juveniles. After a stint in Europe following a confrontation with a Green Lantern, The Reaper came into contact with the Bat. Losing his very first confrontation with The Reaper, Batty is forced to get help from the most unlikely of people… Joe Chill, the very man who murdered the Bat’s parents. This worked out for Bat though as Chill was shot in the head by The Reaper during their standoff, giving Batty the ability to take The Reaper, and leave him holding on for dear life from some scaffolding. Discovering The Reaper’s identity, the Bat is taken aback, as he was set to marry Caspian’s daughter. As he offers his hand to Caspian, The Reaper lets go, killing himself. Once Rachel Caspian discovers what her father has done, she breaks it off with the Bat, and becomes a nun. Defeat through combat, and through losing a loved one.
A once somewhat trusted friend of Batman, hotshot attorney, Harvey Dent (Two-Face), teamed with Gordon, and the Bat to take down some bad elements in Gotham, until he got acid in his face, and started going mad. From then on, making choices by the flip of a coin, occasionally working to be good again, Two-Face was simultaneously one of the greatest and worst men in Gotham. Most victories that Two-Face had against the Bat were fairly insignificant, but Dent becoming Two-Face to begin with has Batty losing a powerful ally. Another significant victory would be Two-Face sussing out that Batman isn’t really Batman after all, once Dick Grayson took over for the supposedly dead Bat. Finding his way easily into the Batcave, Two-Face injected the new Bat with Scarecrow’s fear gas, and pummeled him, losing only thanks to the typical Bat victory; an intervention, Alfred getting an antidote to Grayson who is able to slip away.
1. Mr. Freeze
This cold-shouldered, but not so cold-hearted villain has been around for a long, long time; that’s cryonics for you. Mr. Freeze, working for Wayne Enterprises as a cryogenic researcher and technician (according to the New 52), leaves Wayne’s employ when Bruce decides to shut down the cryo wing of W.E. due to Freeze’s obsession with the cryo patient Nora (formerly his wife in other story arcs), and his subsequent accident after raging at Wayne. Easily subduing both Nightwing and Robin, Freeze is stopped only by the use of a thawing agent by Batman, thus ending this tortured man’s cold streak. However, this is hardly the way in which Mr. Freeze has defeated Batman. That comes in the form of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the infamous film Batman and Robin. Arny single-handedly uses Mr. Freeze as a way in which to forever render the Batman franchise the butt of every DC comic joke. Even the Joker couldn’t come up with material as horrible as this.